When I first starting using RSS feeds a couple of years ago, I used Google Reader and had a widget on my iGoogle page which I used to read my feeds. As my collection of feeds grew and I switched to Pageflakes as a homepage, I decided to move my feeds into Bloglines. I’d heard a lot of positive things about Bloglines and I certainly wasn’t disappointed – the interface worked well and I just found that I gelled with it. I even wrote a blog post about how great it was last year.

I have been using Bloglines Beta and particularly liked the 3 pane view. The interface was easy to follow and the customisation suited me well. I spread the word about how great Bloglines was and encouraged other people to give it a go. Typically, I then found that things started to go downhill. Items weren’t being updated properly, some items I couldn’t mark read, others were being marked read before I read them, and I couldn’t find some of my saved items. Then more recently Bloglines changed the colour scheme and it became difficult to tell whether or not there were new items, I like to be able to see at a glace whether or not there are any new items. The Bloglines iPhone interface also frustrated me – the feeds were there but it had very limited functionality such as being unable to save things to read later. It’s not just me that experienced problems with Bloglines, others have been complaining about it too on Twitter and their blogs.

Around this time, I also found out about Google Reader Trends which can help you see which feeds you read and which you don’t. I have reached a point where I have too many feeds to keep up with so this was the final push which led to me switching back to Google Reader.

OPML makes it so easy to change, it was just a simple case of exporting from Bloglines and importing into Google Reader. I am so far very happy with Google Reader, I love being able to easily star items or share them with others. The iPhone interface is also far more feature rich than the Bloglines version – I am able to have a quick glance, and star items of interest to read later:

I haven’t used Google Trends to its full potential yet but it is very interesting, a quick check now tells me that I do most of my reading late at night (this is usually on my iPod in bed when I can’t sleep!) and I read most posts on a Sunday. Below is a screenshot of the sort of information you get (as you can see from the top graph my reading habits have been sporadic for the last month and I haven’t read any for a few days, RSS reading has been pushed to the bottom of my list of priorities at the moment):

Google Reader Trends

I’m certainly going to try to organise my RSS feeds again and see if I can cull a few of those I don’t read anymore or which have stopped posting.

So, at the moment I’m sticking with Google Reader, although I’m going to keep an eye on developments with Bloglines and may well switch back if things improve – that’s the beauty of RSS and OPML!

How about you? Which feed reader do you use and why? I’m always up for trying new readers, particularly web ones so that I can access them from work or home.

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  • Ben Elwell

    You just can’t fight Google! I used to use Netvibes, but it just doesn’t work as well with lots of feeds. Google reader handles them all with ease.

    I love the fact that Trends shows Lolcats as your favourite feed! I can has cheezburger?

  • I think you’re absolutely right. After I commented about Bloglines in my blog one of the tecchies there contacted me making all sorts of promises and nothing came of it. I moved across to Google Reader a while back and while I’m not quite as keen on it as you it’s a lot better than Bloglines. If the rot continues I reckon it’ll be pretty much dead in the water by this time next year.

  • Another 2 Google users then! I think they’re attracting a lot of people at the moment – it’s a great shame Bloglines aren’t listening to their user base as it really makes a difference to the support they get.

    Ben, you shouldn’t be looking at my stats in detail – you must have also discovered I am a secret trash fan too with the New! Magazine feed being there – I just can’t get enough of Katie and Peter ๐Ÿ˜€

  • I made the move to Google Reader very recently, and I’m glad I did so. It offers so much more versatility than Bloglines, and I like the recommended feeds in particular. I also use Netvibes for work, as this allows many people to look at the feeds without having to log-in, remember a password, sign away their life in blood etc.

  • I’ve been with Bloglines for ages, and it was glitchy a few weeks back, so tried Google Reader, and hated it.
    Then tried NewsGator – is better for me, more like Bloglines, but still don’t like it as much.
    Bloglines has seemed fine for me since then, so I’m sticking with it until the bitter end, with News Gator as a backup.
    I’m still on original Bloglines though, didn’t like the look of the Beta, wonder if that’s why it’s not so affected?

  • Kazimer

    I have used Google Reader ( GR ) since Feb and am very pleased with it. A couple of weekends ago there were connectivity issues for a few days with Google in the NE and I could only access GR sporadically. Then when I did access it there were system errors.

    So, I went in search of alternate Feed Readers. I checked out NewsGator Online (NGO). The feeds took what seemed to take longer to update then what I had experienced with GR.

    In my quest to find out why, I found NGO’s feed retrieval intervals posted by Greg Reinacker he founder and CTO of NewsGator Technologies, Inc. on his blog

    http://www.rassoc.com/gregr/weblog/2008/02/14/newsgator-feed-retrieval-intervals/

    NGO has various categories that direct the feed updates frequencies and my feeds placed in the lower( slower update) category.

    I then checked out FeedDemon thinking that since it is a desktop client I would not have to be concerned with another company’s website issues.

    FeedDemon (FD) has a slick presentation, has many features and for me is much cleaner looking than GR .

    In addition, FD is supposed to be able to synch with NGO. SO, when you are using a different computer than one that has FD on it you can use NGO and through the NGO platform FD and NGO feeds are updated. And, so the presentation indicates even if a person is only using one computer with FD and NGO , syncing will make the feed updating faster.

    However, what I found out was that when FD is in sync mode with NGO the feed updates are done through NGO’s system which updates NGO first and then FD is set up to check back with NGO and pull in the updates.

    What this meant for me was my feeds were in a NGO category that did not get updated that frequently. And, then to top it off when I was using FD it was even slower has FD didn’t get the feeds initially having to be updated by NGO.

    I decided then to disengage the sync function on FD , not use NGO, and have FD fetch the updated feeds directly from the feed source at an interval I decided. In my case I selected an update 1x per hour for each feed. A person can actually have different feed updating frequencies per folder or down to the indvidual feed.

    This was pretty cool and I was satisfied with the feed updates as it was pretty much even with GR.

    However, the next issue popped up which was FD somehow pulling feeds that had months old items marked as unread.

    I checked the same reads in GR and this was not an issue.

    I deleted all of my feed subscriptions in NGO and FD and de-installed FD from my computer.

    So, I came back to GR and have it has my main Feed Reader.

    I checked out Bloglines Beta, however it currently does not have the functionality that I need and want. Once it gets out of Beta , I will re-check it out.

    End result I chose Bloglines Classic as my other feed reader. I am in the process of deciding as to whether it will be my main source or my backup.

    In either case, I feel have the top 2 feed readers free web-based feed readers on the market today.

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